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CAN, NCEF lock horn over visit to Buhari

The National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) being piloted by a former Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd) and Solomon Asemota (SAN), has faulted the “congratulatory” visit of the Christian Association of Nigeria to President Muhammadu Buhari on his purported victory in the 2019 general elections, describing it as “morally and spiritually reprehensible.”

The organisation specifically alleged that from “the ill-advised congratulatory visit to President Buhari”, which said amounted to subjudice, it should be clear to every Christian of good conscience that the President of CAN, Rev. Sampson Ayokunle “is running CAN as an appendage of the All Progressives Congress (APC) ”

“NCEF is making these points for record purposes so that in years to come, if any further evil befalls Christianity in Nigeria, no one would claim ignorance of the issues that led to the emasculation of the Church. As Christian Elders, we affirm that it was ill-advised and ill-motivated for anyone claiming to represent the Body of Christ to rush to congratulate President Buhari pending the determination of the suit in Court”, the elders affirmed.

But CAN in a statement by Director Legal and Public Affairs CAN, Barr. Samuel Kwamkur has described the development as baseless saying the religious body has no business with NCEF.

He said it is right for CAN to visit and congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari who has been declared winner of the just concluded 2019 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

“I was part of the delegation of CAN, it is getting to one year now since CAN disassociated itself from the activities of the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF). The decision to visit President Muhammadu Buhari is not supposed to be with their knowledge since they are not part of CAN,” he said.

He noted that CAN has disbanded NCEF and they have no reason to join issues with CAN.

He said, “If CAN is going right they will go left. CAN has no business with the elders forum on this matter. Most of the leaders of CAN were in that team who went to see President Muhammadu Buhari. The five blocs constituting CAN was fully represented by the leaders of the blocs.”

However, the NCEF elders further said the action of the CAN President, Rev. Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, was a further confirmation of all their protests and petitions in 2018 querying his faithfulness to Christ and to His Church.

NCEF in a statement by Asemota (who is its chairman) entitled: “Not on our behalf, CAN President, Not on our behalf”, obtained by journalists in Abuja, said such visit was “subjudice” as the determination of who won the 2019 general election “is still in Court.”

Apart from Danjuma and Asemota, other members of NCEF included Prof. Joseph Otubu, Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro (retd), Archbishop Magnus Atilade, Dr. (Mrs) Kate Okpareke, Dr. Ayo Abifarin, Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd), Elder Moses Ihonde, Elder Nat Okoro and Elder Matthew Owojaiye.

Other members included Justice Kalajine Anigbogu (retd), Elder Shyngle Wigwe, DIG P. L. Dabup, Sir John W. Bagu, Dr. Saleh Hussaini, Elder Mike Orobator, Justice James Ogebe, JSC (retd), Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Debo Omotosho, Dame Priscilla Kuye, Dr. S. D. Gani, Mrs. Osaretin Demuren, Prof. Yussuf Turaki; late former General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake and Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary).

The statement reads: “It is therefore premature and presumptuous for anyone to congratulate President Buhari for “winning” an election that is contested in Court. The NCEF wishes to state that the congratulatory visit to Aso Villa by CAN could not be in the interest of Nigerian Christians who daily bear the agony of thousands of their brethren being killed, maimed, displaced and marginalized in the Jihad launched in the northern parts of the country.”

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